Monday, March 30, 2009

Non-Stop; Brian Aldiss (1958)

“Non-Stop” is the story of Roy Complain, a man whom escapes from his dead-end life in the tribe with a priest and several other escapees. The priest believes that they all live on a spacecraft, and wishes to get to the helm and pilot the ship back home, with the assistance of the rest of the group. This is the cue for an adventure through unknown areas, the party concerning themselves with a variety of dangers while finding something about the world in which they live.

The fact that they are on a ship is not immediately obvious to many of those whom inhabit it, but is for those reading the book, and is explicitly stated quite early on, so I haven’t spoiled the book for those whom have not read it. There are a few surprises about the world the characters in “Non-Stop” reside, but I found that I had actually guessed much of the ending two-thirds of the way through the book, which was something of a disappointment considering that I think it was meant to be a surprise twist.

The social ideals that the tribe and its member support – a philosophy supporting selfishness and greed, and scorning altruism, makes for an interesting read. And although the characters aren’t the most well-fleshed out characters I’ve ever encountered, let alone characters for a SF novel, their interesting shared belief system makes up for this deficiency, by making them all less than idealised characters.

Apart from the end twist that was too easy to figure out, my main complaint is that there are several coincidences in the book that I cannot credit, all of which were required to progress the plot of the story forward. To go into them would spoil major plot aspects, but I could not suspend my disbelief in order to allow these coincidences to work.

It’s a good book, certainly, but not a great book. It’s an adventure through unknown areas with a few interesting ideas thrown in, but some fairly large coincidences, characters that are not well-developed, and being able to predict the ending meant that it wasn’t quite the book it could have been. 3.5/5.

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